No One Is Illegal – Toronto Statement on G20 Conspiracy Plea Resolution
On Tuesday, November 22nd 2011, 17 community organizers – including No One Is Illegal – Toronto’s own Syed Hussan – charged with G20 related “conspiracy” charges, entered into a ‘plea deal’ with the Crown. The plea saw eleven of the 17 G20 defendants getting their charges dropped, while the remaining six – Leah, Mandy, Alex, Peter, Eric, and Adam – will face jail time ranging from 3 to 16 months. Today, on Monday, November 28, Eric, Adam and Peter will begin their jail sentences.
It’s been 17 months since that week in June 2010, when more than 40,000 of us took to the streets in Toronto to fight back against an expensive and exploitative summit whose only real goal was the furthering of corporate greed, military expansion, wars, displacement and environmental destruction. 17 months since the Canadian police and government waged an explicit and overt war against any dissent making itself too visible on the streets; a war that included the largest spy operation, and the largest mass arrest (1,100 people) in Canadian history. All justified by a billion dollar “security” tag.
17 months since organizers were snatched off the streets, threatened with assault, assaulted, beaten and had their doors broken down in pre-dawn house raids. 17 months since activists and organizers visible and vocal in demonstrating opposition to G20 policies were charged with various “conspiracy” and “counseling” charges and forced to go through extended pre-trial detentions, highly restrictive house arrest and endure constant surveillance.
This much we know.
But what we also know is that our histories span much longer than 17 months, and our realities are much more embedded than what the brief moment of G20’s presence in Toronto could reveal. We know the intense repression we saw is not novel, nor is it entirely surprising. It’s a daily reality. The kind most don’t notice, obscured by the seeming benevolence of white vans that leave the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (Immigration Enforcement) every morning to arrest, detain and deport people. To enforce the laws that say it’s okay to displace people, force them to work precarious, temporary jobs that benefit corporations, deny them status, and then one day rip them apart from their families and friends. Laws that make it legal to arbitrarily arrest people fleeing war and persecution; that force women to remain in abusive relationships; that separate parents from their children; that legalize an apartheid society enforced by a Colonial state founded on stolen indigenous land.
No One Is Illegal – Toronto stands solidly behind the decisions made by the 17 G20 defendants. We are inspired by the courage and conviction they’ve shown in the face of impossible choices that pit communities against each other and all of us against a rigged court system which is fundamentally unjust. As the 17 say in a statement they collectively released, “there is no justice in the court system.” We recognize that the choice they made to take the plea deal was based on a thorough thought process that weighed in equal measure the community resources being subsumed by court proceedings and the broader political implications of accepting jail time for the absurd charges they faced, all the while prioritizing avoiding deportations.